Author Topic: Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield  (Read 9358 times)

Glenn Byron

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Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield
« on: February 18, 2011, 04:43:21 PM »
  We discussed this somewhat last October in the topic "A Few Stories" near the bottom of page 1.  I'm starting a new topic as this presentation relates directly to The Franklin, Somerset and Kennebec Railway that was proposed around 1900 to connect the WW&F at Winslow to the SR&RL in Farmington. The Old Somerset Railroad started in Oakland during the 1860's, reached Bingham by 1890 and completed the iron to Moosehead Lake in 1906.  A very big problem developed in finding an acceptable route for narrow gauge rails to cross the full gauge at Oakland. (We've heard that before)  This was perhaps one of the most scenic railways in Maine following the Kennebec River Valley northward, then up watershed stream's wilderness beauty to the big lake, crossing a 600 foot long and 150 foot high trestle along the way.
  The Smithfield Maine Historical Society will welcome the author of "The Old Somerset Railroad- A Lifeline for Northern Mainers", Walter M. Macdougall, on Saturday April 30, 2011 at the Smithfield Grange Hall.  He'll hold you spellbond with his tales of life along this railroad.  We've scheduled him from 10-11:30.  Take a lunch break, then give him another shot from 12:30 -2 with ample time for questions.  I've heard this guy before and a short session just leaves you begging for more.  We'll be asking for small donations for lunch and to reimburse him, but you won't feel the pain at all. Railroad presentations like this can't be matched.  Don't miss it.

Glenn Byron

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Re: Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2011, 11:06:33 AM »
SMITHFIELD MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Founded November 11, 2009                                                                                               _____________________________________________________________________________________
PRESENTS
WALTER M. MACDOUGALL
Author of
THE OLD SOMERSET RAILROAD
At
Fairview Grange Hall
826 Village Road, Smithfield Maine 04978
Saturday April 30, 2011
10:00 to 11:30 A.M. - 12:30 to 2:00 P.M.
Lunch available 11:30 to 12:30 (you pay)
Chowders, soup, sandwiches, coffee, doughnuts and sweets
Donation at door $2.00
If you are a Railroad buff or a lover of history you don’t want to miss this program.

FMI call R Witham @ 634-4392 or G Byron @ 362-5539 or email me for a printable version of this flyer.

Glenn Byron

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Re: Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2011, 05:45:45 PM »
UPDATE, Mr.Walter M. Macdougall's presentation in Smithfield was fantastic! A book is now available titled "By Brain and Brawn", subtitled, An account of How Railroad Tracks Were Maintained and of the Men Who Did the Job, by Walter M. Macdougall, as told by Robert Roberts and Other Veteran Trackmen. I'm reading my new copy now and learning much about Section Foremen and the daily work involved in keeping a railroad in proper shape. A glossary of terms helps a novice like me understand the ins and outs.  With all the track work going on at The WW&F Museum being talked about on The Discussion Forum, reading this book really brings the reality of it all right up front. It doesn't matter the gauge of the railroad, most of the maintainence problems and tools of the trade are similar. The cruel Maine winters along with the annual spring thaw creates nightmares for Section Hands. We try to do the work now as it was done back in the day and here, in first hand reflections, are the methods. This book will hold you spellbound. You can have your own autographed copy for $16 postpaid by writing: Walter M. Macdougall, 75 Sargent Hill Dr., Milo, ME. 04463.  If we would like to make this book available through the WW&F Museum Bookstore and the Museum make a profit, contact the author at 207-943-2331.  And lastly, if you ever want a speaker at an event or gathering that will leave you dreaming Maine Railroad Adventures all night long, this is your boy. Don't miss the opportunity.

Glenn Byron

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Re: Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 09:56:45 PM »
Let's bring this topic to the front once more.  Today I checked a little into my bucket list.  Three of us traveled up the Kennebec starting our quest in Madison in the Madison Paper Mill yard observing the pitiful condition of what is currently the end of The Old Somerset Railway.  Unless you've seen it, one cannot believe a train could stay on this iron, but somehow at a 10 MPH limit we're told, it is still in service. Now, here's something amazing!!  At the Route 201A Madison street crossing where a barrier once stopped all rail traffic before the Kennebec River Bridge to Anson, now the line is open.  Crushed stone repairs all along the long abandoned rails tells us something is happening up the line.  Who knows what?  We checked many crossings, the old rail still in place, looks straight at least to novice eyes and servicable. At the old Anson Reel Yard in North Anson about 5 miles up the long abandoned line is a huge pile of the crushed stone for more washout repair.  The mainline looks good here as well as sidings.  The Carabassett River Bridge, long a snowmobile crossing is the end of the iron. I'll hope someone adds to this tid bit.  We then continued northward with our fisherman guide, Colin Davis of Smithfield.  Picking along the railway ROW as we could thru Solon into Bingham, now a beautiful ATV path.  At Bingham our Chevy pickup found the ROW crossing about half way up the Route 16 Eastbound hill that has claimed so many big trucks.  A left turn on the ROW heads us along the deep ravine of Austin Stream on a well maintained road easily and well travelled by vehicles.  My mind pictures a tourist laden train climbing this rapidly rising  beautiful trip in 1915 on their way to Rockwood.  Just a short way, maybe a mile or so, we find the spot where that famous 700 foot Gulf Stream Bridge crossed high over the valley intersection of Gulf Stream with Austin Stream.  Now, railroad enthusiasts, if you have never stood on that header and peered into that chasm, you have not lived.  I couldn't get closer than 10 feet from the edge.  I leave you here with a link to the picture I wish I took.  If you want another chapter to this, just ask.
http://photos.greatrails.net/showpic/?photo=2009121218064022483.jpg


Glenn Byron

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Re: Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2012, 04:41:47 PM »
Thanks to Andrew we get the trip into that beautiful Gulf Stream gorge, where an old man like me couldn't go.  He also found much more rail still in place in North Anson.  Those relic pieces of the Gulf Stream Trestle are a fantastic find.  Andrew, there weren't any bugs there yesterday.

Andrew Laverdiere

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Re: Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2012, 06:30:57 PM »
Thanks to Andrew we get the trip into that beautiful Gulf Stream gorge, where an old man like me couldn't go.  He also found much more rail still in place in North Anson.  Those relic pieces of the Gulf Stream Trestle are a fantastic find.  Andrew, there weren't any bugs there yesterday.

Happily, during my entire trip, the bugs were only a bother when I was in Bingham asking about the spur and when I was standing on that trestle foundation.

Glenn Byron

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Re: Old Somerset Railroad Author to Speak in Smithfield
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2015, 01:23:48 PM »
And YES I know this is an old topic, but worthy of updating once in a while.  The whole Somerset Railway is now unused at least as a railbed.  The portion from Oakland to Madison Paper Industries has had no trains since perhaps last summer.  All of the improvements mentioned above from Anson to North Anson went for naught.  Exploring the ROW is still a fun activity and, as far as I know, not much restricted.  I found an interesting unpublished photo of the Gulf Stream Trestle you readers might want to check out.  It hangs on the wall of a nice breakfast / lunch spot in central Norridgewock almost beside the RR Crossing.  It's called "What's for Supper" and has many great old local photos to peruse.  The photo I am talking about was taken about 1950, well after the trestle was abandoned for trains, but still used as a bridge to bring forest products out.  It shows a whole lineup of loaded trucks on the bridge.  In fact, 10-15 years ago one of my coffee buddies who owned trucks way back then told me of hauling loads across that bridge.  All rails and ties had been removed and edge rails (Probably old ties) were placed at each side just as a safety barrier.  His voice still quivered as he reminisced about those trips.  Maybe someone else has seen this photo or knows an old trucker story.  Stay Tuned.